Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The German Classics of The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Vol. IX by Various

Part 9 out of 13

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.4 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

How should I know? On the road I meet that crazy John, and he is
gesticulating with his arms as if he were striking some one, and points
in the direction of the forester's house--

FORESTER.

He was pointing toward the forest; he meant to call attention to the
clearing--

WILKENS.

I really was going in another direction, but I thought I'd better see.
And immediately I see some one standing absorbed in thought, not far
from the house. It's Andrew. You ask him, I say to myself. Well! As he
hears me coming he starts up, gives me a wild look, and--is gone. I call
after him. Well! It seems he has forgotten his name. I run after him,
but he--disappears, as if he had an evil conscience.

SOPHY.

I wonder what that can mean.

FORESTER (_calls out of the window, with authority_).

Andrew!

WILKENS.

There he comes.

SCENE VIII

_The same. The_ PASTOR; WEILER _seated_. WEILER.

It's the pastor! [_All exchange greetings_.]

SOPHY.

God be praised! Our good pastor!

FORESTER.

You are under the impression that you are coming to the betrothal,
pastor, but--

PASTOR.

I know all that has been going on here.

FORESTER.

Mr. Stein--

PASTOR.

I have just come from him. And the message I have to give you--I know,
you will not receive it less kindly because I am the messenger.

SOPHY.

If you come from Mr. Stein, then everything may still end well. But,
pastor, you do not know how obstinate that man is.

PASTOR.

How so? I know everything. But yet he is not the chief culprit;
otherwise I should not be here as Stein's ambassador. He is willing to
take the first step.

WILKENS.

I should not take it, if I were the master.

PASTOR.

Yes, old friend Ulrich, Stein is sorry that his impetuosity was the
cause of spoiling this beautiful day.

FORESTER.

Do you hear that, cousin Wilkens?

PASTOR.

The threat about dismissal was not meant as seriously as it sounded.

FORESTER.

Do you hear, Weiler?

PASTOR.

That the matter should rest there--

FORESTER.

Should rest there? Pray, what does he mean by that?

PASTOR.

He means that he could not retract his word immediately without making
himself ridiculous. He thinks you would see this yourself.

FORESTER (_drawling_).

Indeed? And Godfrey?

PASTOR (_shrugs his shoulders_).

Is forester of Duesterwalde for the
time being. That cannot be helped--

FORESTER.

That is what you say. But I tell you Godfrey is not. I am the forester
of Duesterwalde. That I am, and that I remain, until Mr. Stein proves
that I have not acted in accordance with my duty.

PASTOR.

But, in order that you might see how ready he is, for his part, to
redress his share of the wrong and to reestablish the old comfortable
relation, you are to draw the double amount of your present salary as a
pension.

[FORESTER _walks up and down, and whistles_.]

PASTOR.

Thus far my message, old friend; and now--

FORESTER (_stops in front of the pastor_).

For what, sir? Does he think of buying my honor with it? Sir, my honor
is not to be bought with money.

[_Walks up and down, and whistles_.]

PASTOR.

But, queer old friend--

WILKENS.

Yes, if he would only listen to one!

FORESTER (_as before_).

Is that pension to be given from charity? I need no charity. I can
work. I will have nothing gratis. I accept no alms. I know he cannot
dismiss me, if I have not been unfaithful. That I know from several
instances--for example, hunter Rupert in Erdmansgruen. If I allowed
myself to be dismissed without protest, it would be tantamount to a
confession that I were dishonest. Nothing could be proved against
Rupert, and he remained in his position. And who will employ a man that
has been dismissed? Sir, from my father and grandfather I have inherited
my honor, and I owe it to my children and children's children. Before me
my father occupied this post, and my grandfather before my father.
Throughout the whole valley people call me the Hereditary Forester. I am
the first of my race to be dismissed. Go out into my forest, sir, and if
it is not a sight to gladden your soul--Sir, I have planted the forest
as far as the church-yard. There my father and grandfather lie buried,
and upon their tombstones you may read their masters' testimony: "They
were honorable men and faithful servants." They are resting under green
pine trees, as behooves huntsmen. Sir, and if my grandchild should ever
come there and ask: "But why is he who planted the pines not resting
under them? Why have we no business there? Was he a scoundrel, that his
master had the right to dismiss him?" And when they are looking for my
grave, and find it behind the church-yard wall? Sir, if you can live
without your honor, it is well for you--or, rather, it is wicked of you.
But you see, sir, for me there is only one choice: either by the side of
my father and grandfather under the pine trees--or behind the
church-yard wall. Sir, I am forester here, or Mr. Stein would be obliged
to proclaim publicly that he has treated me as only a scoundrel would
treat a man. My money I have spent for his forest. I will take out
nothing but the staff with which I shall go forth into the world to seek
in my old age a new position. But from me the disgrace must be removed,
and to him it must ever remain attached. I am within my right, and I
will maintain it. WILKENS. Within your right? Well! What will you do
with your right? Right costs money. Right is a plaything for the rich,
as horses and carriages. Well! With your talk about right and wrong!
Your right, that is your obstinacy. You will even go so far as to snatch
the clothes from the bodies of your wife and children, just to keep your
obstinacy warm.

PASTOR.

But--

SCENE IX

_The same. Enter_ WILLIAM.

WILLIAM.

Father, Andrew is outside, and refuses to come in. I told him that you
had called him.

SOPHY.

Come, William, let us go out to Andrew.

FORESTER.

Keep quiet, woman. Are you going to make him completely crazy with your
lamentations? Either you keep quiet, or you go in there, and I shall
lock you in.

[_Goes solemnly to the rear door_.]

Andrew! Come in at once! Do you hear?

SCENE X

_The same. Enter_ ANDREW. ANDREW _at the door; when he sees the people
he is going to withdraw_.

FORESTER.

Andrew, you come in. Before your superior!

[_Seats himself as if preparing for trial_.]

_The_ FORESTER, SOPHY, WEILER, WILLIAM _on the left. The_ PASTOR,
WILKENS _on the right_. ANDREW, _who dares not look any one in the face,
in the centre_.

FORESTER.

Come here, forester's assistant Andrew Ulrich. Where do you come from?

ANDREW. From the nursery, father.

FORESTER.

Where is your rifle, Andrew Ulrich?

[ANDREW _is silent_.]

FORESTER.

Who has it?

ANDREW (_in a hollow voice_).

Godfrey.

[FORESTER _rises involuntarily_.]

SOPHY (_in great alarm_).

Ulrich!

FORESTER (_sits down again_).

Here no one has anything to say, except the forester's assistant Ulrich
and his superior. Andrew--

ANDREW.

Father--

FORESTER.

Why do you not look at me?

ANDREW.

I no longer can look any one in the face. I want to go to America as
cabin-boy. Let me go, father.

FORESTER.

Boy, it is your duty to answer when your superior asks. What is it that
Godfrey has? Out with it!

ANDREW.

I was just at my task of taking out the maple trees in the nursery--

FORESTER.

As I had ordered you.

ANDREW.

Then came--

FORESTER.

Godfrey? Go on, Andrew Ulrich.

ANDREW.

With six woodcutters from the Brandsberg--

FORESTER.

From--go on, Andrew Ulrich.

ANDREW.

He was intoxicated--

WEILER (_half audibly_).

As usual--

[_When the forester casts a look at him, he pretends not to have said
anything_.]

ANDREW.

And so were the woodcutters. He had them pass the bottle round. "Here we
begin," he said. "Ulrich has made a fine mess of it," he said; "for that
reason he is dismissed." When he had said that I stepped forward
forward--

FORESTER.

You stepped forward?--

[_Rises_.]

ANDREW.

And said he was a miserable slanderer. And that, moreover, he had no
business to give orders in the forest.

FORESTER (_straightens himself_).

In the forest.

ANDREW.

And that he should go where he belonged.

FORESTER (_emphatically_).

Where he belonged.

[_Sits down_.]

And he--

ANDREW.

Laughed.

FORESTER (_rises and sits down again; whistles, and drums on the
table_).

Go on.

ANDREW.

And said: "What does that fellow want?"

FORESTER (_in a loud voice_).

Andrew!

ANDREW.

Father--

FORESTER.

And you? Go on, go on.

ANDREW.

"Hasn't he plants from my forest in his hand?" [_Lowering his voice._]

"Hold that thief who steals wood and plants."

FORESTER (_short pause_).

And they--

ANDREW.

Held me.

FORESTER.

And you--

ANDREW.

They were too many. My resistance was of no avail--

FORESTER (_acting as if he were present at the fight_).

Was of no avail. They were six against one.

ANDREW.

I was furious when I saw what he intended to do. They took off my
clothes. I told him to shoot me, otherwise I would shoot him if he let
me escape with my life. At that he laughed. They--had--to hold--me.

FORESTER (_jumps up_).

And he--

ANDREW (_reluctantly, imploring_).

Father--

FORESTER.

And he--he--

ANDREW.

He--

FORESTER (_faintly_).

He--

ANDREW (_beside himself_).

Father, I cannot say it. No man in God's world has ever dared to do that
to me!

FORESTER (_drawing a deep breath_).

Be quiet now. Say it later--Andrew.

[_Pause. He passes by ANDREW, who now steps over to SOPHY._]

Fine weather today, pastor. All at once the old rheumatism in my arm
begins to bother me again.--And the gnats are flying so low. We shall
have a thunderstorm before the day is over.--Andrew, he did--I never
did, and a stranger--a--say nothing, Andrew--I understand you.

[_Goes up and down._]

SOPHY (_to ANDREW_).

How unfortunate that you provoked Godfrey yesterday!

WEILER.

Haven't I foretold it?

SOPHY.

You are deathly pale. I will give you some drops--

FORESTER (_drawn up to his full height, stops before_ ANDREW. SOPHY
_timidly draws back_).

Listen, Andrew. And you, Weiler.

[WEILER _advances_.]

Open your ears! Whoever comes into my forest with a gun--you challenge
him! You understand?

WEILER.

Well, yes.

FORESTER.

Those are your instructions. You challenge him! I am forester, and
nobody else, and you are my servants. The master and his son may pass.
But whoever else comes into my forest with a gun--do you hear?--be he
who he may--whether he wears a green coat or not--he is a poacher, he is
to be challenged--"Stop! Down with your gun!" As is provided in the
regulations. If he throws it down--all right. If he does not throw it
down--fire! As is provided in the regulations. And you, William, go
without delay to town to see lawyer Schirmer. You tell him the whole
affair. He is to draw up a complaint against Stein and his Godfrey, and
is to file it with the court. Don't forget anything, William: that my
father and grandfather held the position; that people call me the
Hereditary Forester; the case of Rupert in Erdmansgruen. It probably will
not be necessary, but one cannot be too careful. Don't forget that the
forest is exposed toward the north and west and that Stein intends to
dismiss me because I refuse to act as a scoundrel toward him. If you go
now, you can be home before night. Andrew and I will accompany you as
far as the Boundary Inn. There Andrew can wait for you in the evening
when you return.

[_To_ ANDREW, _who is examining the guns_.]

Take the double-barreled one with the yellow strap, Andrew. I am going
to take the other.

ANDREW (_does as told_).

Mother, a muffler; I feel chilly.

SOPHY (_takes one from the closet_).

But you really should stay home, Andrew, after that outrage.

[_Helps him to tie the muffler around his neck.]

WILKENS.

And you don't see that you are absolutely in the wrong? You will be
wilfully blind?

PASTOR.

You wish to begin a suit because of your dismissal? You cannot do that.

FORESTER (_who in the meantime has girded on his hunting knife_).

I cannot do that? Then it is right that he wishes to dismiss me?

PASTOR.

It certainly is unfair; wrong before the tribunal of the heart, but not
before the law.

FORESTER.

Whatever is right before the heart must also be right before the law.

PASTOR.

If you would permit me to explain to you--

FORESTER.

Explain? Here everything is clear, except your cobwebs of the brain by
means of which those gentlemen would like to puzzle you, so that you
might lose confidence in your own common-sense. Those Buts and those
Ifs! I know all about that! The Buts and the Ifs--they originate
entirely in the head; the heart knows nothing of them; they are the
creators of intrigues. Very well, sir, go ahead with your explanation.
But confine yourself to plain Yes and No. Anything outside of that is a
nuisance. The Buts and Ifs are a nuisance. Mr. Stein intends to rob me
of my honor; he intends to reward my fidelity and my honesty with
disgrace; in my sixty-fifth year I am to stand before the world as a
scoundrel. Now, Sir, Yes or No--is that right?

PASTOR.

I am to answer Yes or No? Indeed, it is not right in the ordinary sense,
but--

FORESTER (_interrupts triumphantly_).

Then it is not right? And if it is not right, it must be wrong. And for
this purpose the courts are there, that no wrong shall be done. No man
shall make me doubt my good right. And I shall break friendship forever
with him who says another word to me about yielding. Amen! If only a But
were required to make wrong right, then I would rather live among the
savages, then I would rather be the most miserable beast on God's earth
than a human being. Are you ready, boys?

ANDREW _and_ WILLIAM.

Yes.

FORESTER.

Come then, boys. Everything else may go to the devil, sir. But right,
sir, right must remain right!

[_Exeunt_.]

ACT III

_The Boundary Inn._

SCENE I

LINDENSCHMIED; HOST. _Enter_ MOeLLER, _after him_ FREI.

MOeLLER.

Host, let me have a drink. [_Aside_.] I guess he will find his way home;
Godfrey will. From the mill in the Dell it is scarcely a quarter of an
hour to his house.--Good evening.

FREI (_still without_).

Let's take a drink while we are passing.

[_Enters_.]

I am going over to the duke's estate. There they are having a jolly
time.

HOST.

God save us from that sort of jollity! Your health, Mr. Moeller!

MOeLLER.

Fine company!

HOST.

Will you not take a seat, Mr. Moeller?

MOeLLER.

Thank you. I still have to go to the blast-furnace this evening; my men
have gone ahead.

[_Aside, while putting the glass to his lips_.]

To the happy consummation of the marriage with Loehlein and Co!

FREI.

Over yonder things are going topsy-turvy, and with us here the crisis
will come today or tomorrow. The Hereditary Forester has already
barricaded himself in his house.

HOST.

Nonsense! He! He is conscientiousness personified!

FREI.

One is conscientious as long as it pays. That man is a fool who remains
so one hour longer. He or his people are going to shoot Godfrey wherever
they find him.

[_Makes a gesture_.]

And the Hereditary Forester does not waste many words. In that respect I
know the old fellow with his white moustache.

LINDENSCHMIED (_laughing hoarsely_).

Is that so?

FREI (_looks at him_).

Do you mean to say you are going to take Godfrey's part? Hey,
Lindenschmied?

LINDENSCHMIED (_as before_).

Godfrey's--

FREI.

Every child knows how much you love him!

LINDENSCHMIED (_with a gesture, as before_).

Ha! Ha!

FREI.

Weiler himself heard the Hereditary Forester say it. And, I tell you,
what the Hereditary Forester says--that's as good as if another fellow
had already done it.

LINDENSCHMIED.

He'll look out for his skin, the Hereditary Forester will.

[_Softly._]

If there were no judges that sit around the green table, and if there
were no--

[_Indicates by a pantomime that he means the hangman._]

FREI.

His reign is at an end. He--For now it is

[_Strikes the table._]

Liberty! Long life to the Hereditary Forester! And whoever has any evil
intentions toward him--I am alluding to no one--

MOeLLER (_hurriedly_).

Here, host. Almost eight o'clock!

HOST.

Are you in such a hurry, Mr. Moeller?

MOeLLER.

At the blast-furnace they are waiting for me.

HOST.

Your change--

MOeLLER (_already at the door_).

Never mind! Credit it to me for tomorrow.

[_Exit._]

SCENE II

LINDENSCHMIED; HOST; FREI.

FREI (_rises, shaking his fist after him_).

Nothing shall be credited to you and fellows of your kind. Everything
shall be paid to you. Lindenschmied, are you coming along to the duke's
estate?

LINDENSCHMIED.

I'm going my own way. [_Advances._]

Those judges around the green table! The idea, that an honest fellow
should be frightened when a leaf rustles, and look behind him to see
whether the constable isn't after him!

FREI.

We'll knock it down--the green table--I tell you. We'll see to it that
in ten years from now nobody will be able to get any information as to
what sort of thing a constable ever was. Now it is Liberty, and Order
has ceased to exist: everybody can do what he pleases. No more
constables, no green table, I tell you. No tower, no chains. If the Lord
had created the hares expressly for the nobleman, he would at once have
stamped his coat of arms into their fur. That would have been an easy
matter for a person like the Lord. Now men know that those who are in
prisons are martyrs worthy of veneration, and that the noblemen are
rascals, be they ever so honest. And the industrious people are rascals,
for it is their fault that honest people who do not like to work are
poor. That you can read printed in the newspapers. And if the Hereditary
Forester gets hold of Godfrey [_pantomime_] nobody can hurt him for
that; for Godfrey got honest people into prison, when they had stolen.

LINDENSCHMIED.

And he will not be punished? No? And another fellow neither, if he does
it?

FREI.

Another fellow neither, I tell you. Over yonder the honest people set
fire to the castle and plundered it; several people lost their lives in
the affair; nobody cares a fig. Lucky he who now has an old grudge. And
Ulrich need not run far. Godfrey is reeling around there in the Dell;
he's lost his hat--

LINDENSCHMIED (_puts his hands with convulsive haste into his pockets_).

And nothing--absolutely nothing--not even a blunt knife about me!

SCENE III

_The same. Enter ANDREW._

ANDREW (_entering_).

Isn't it close in here! [_Takes off his muffler._] Good evening.

[_Wraps the muffler around the lock of the gun, and puts the gun next to
him against the wall._]

I advise every one not to touch this; the gun is loaded.

[_To the host._]

I do not know what is the matter with me. All at once I began to feel so
badly out there. I was going to wait for my brother at the boundary.
HOST.

Make yourself at home, Mr. Andrew.

ANDREW.

I suppose William has not yet come.

[_Throws himself on a bench, puts his arms upon the table and rests his
head upon them._]

FREI (_rattles his glass on the table_).

Let me have another one, host. And it is a favor that I now drink in
your place, when you still charge for it. In a week from now you will
have to provide the stuff, and no honest man need pay you a penny for
it, I tell you.

LINDENSCHMIED (_from this point on incessantly casting furtive glances
sometimes at_ ANDREW, _sometimes at the gun_).

If he would only go to sleep--that fellow!

[_Leaning across the table, secretly to_ FREI.]

There in the Dell, you say?--And are you quite sure, Frei, that nothing
will be punished any longer?

FREI.

Superstition, I tell you! If you do something, and they hang you, you
may call me a rascal for the rest of your life. Look here! What formerly
was called fidelity and honesty, that's a tale with which old grannies
used to humbug us. And a fellow that keeps his word is a scoundrel; such
a one I would not trust as far as the door. The common people are
essentially honest, because they are the common people. You ought to
hear those gentlemen over there talk; there was a professor among them;
he ought to know.

LINDENSCHMIED (_leads him aside_).

But what about conscience? And about the hereafter?

FREI.

All superstition! Nothing else, let me tell you.

LINDENSCHMIED.

That's what I always thought. But formerly a person was not allowed to
say such things.

FREI.

They humbugged people with heaven and hell, so that our noble
and gracious master might keep his hares all to himself. They have
drummed a conscience into poor people in their childhood, so that they
should submit patiently when the rich are living in luxury and
extravagance.

LINDENSCHMIED.

And he is in the Dell?

[HOST _becomes attentive._]

FREI.

Who?

LINDENSCHMIED.

That--

[_Buttons his coat._]

FREI.

Where are you going?

LINDENSCHMIED.

To pay debts before another day comes.

[_While he watches_ ANDREW _furtively, he fumbles with his left hand in
his vest-pocket, in order to pay the host_.]

Why, I can't get it out with--

FREI.

The fingers of your left hand are stiff.

LINDENSCHMIED (_with a pantomime_).

Those of my right will soon become crooked.

FREI.

Have you had a stroke?

LINDENSCHMIED (_laughing hoarsely_).

Yes, a leaden one. Two ounces of powder and three of buckshot.

[_Constantly speaks in a subdued voice, so as not to awaken_ ANDREW.]
A memorandum from that fellow in the Dell.

FREI.

From Godfrey?

LINDENSCHMIED.

Because I coined money out of the deer belonging to the owner of
Strahlau. There was enough uncoined money running about in the forest.

FREI.

Let me have another one, host.

[_Holds out his glass._]

LINDENSCHMIED (_lost in thought, alone in the foreground_).

Six times I ran out where he was to pass; but he did not come. At that
time conscience was still the fashion. Then I thought: "It is not to be
now," and postponed it to some time when he should come along by
accident, so that I should be obliged to see that it was to be. For
whole nights it choked me like a nightmare and wasted my body, that I
should not lay hands on him, and now--ha! ha! ha!

[_Gives a short convulsive laugh, thus rousing himself out of his
thoughts; looks around embarrassed._]

FREI.

Did you laugh, Lindenschmied?

LINDENSCHMIED.

I don't know whether it was me.

FREI.

You have a queer laugh. Are you going along, Lindenschmied, into
the ducal territory?

LINDENSCHMIED (_slaps him on the shoulder_).

Man, now we have liberty! I have my own way.

FREI.

I don't care.

[_Steps to the background to the host_.]

What do I owe you on this last occasion that it is necessary to pay?
There; give me change.

HOST.

You have had three, four--

[LINDENSCHMIED _has availed himself of the moment when no one is looking
at him to take away_ ANDREW'S _gun furtively, and hurries out with it_.]

FREI.

What is the time, host?

HOST.

Past eight.

FREI (_going out_).

Good-by.

SCENE IV

HOST; ANDREW.

ANDREW (_starts up_).

Eight? Now William may come.

HOST (_approaches_ ANDREW _timidly_).

You are an honest man. To you I may unburden my mind. They are an
abominable set--those that just left. They let fall some words. Godfrey
is drunk in the Dell, and Lindenschmied, his mortal enemy, has gone
after him. And what didn't he say! He was talking of making his fingers
crooked. And that fellow is capable of everything!

ANDREW.

You believe Lindenschmied intends to have Godfrey's life?

HOST.

I have said nothing. If I expose their plot, they will burn my house
over my head. And if I do nothing--

[_Walks up and down_.]

ANDREW (_was about to rise, but sits down again_).

To save that fellow? Let happen to him what God permits. I will not turn
a finger to save him.

HOST (_as before_).

What shall I do?

ANDREW.

Father says: When a person is in distress every decent man must come to
his assistance, and when it's all over he may ask: Whom did I assist?

[Illustration: MOSES ON MT. SINAI SCHNORR VON CAROLSFELD].

HOST.

Perhaps I had better inform? But--

ANDREW (_rises with sudden decision_).

I am going. I will see whether I can find Godfrey. I am sure nothing
will happen to William. It is only a few steps from here to the house.
What am I looking for? My muffler. There in my temples something is
hammering and buzzing. What did I do with it? I tied it around the gun.

[_When he cannot find it_.]

But where is my gun?

HOST.

You miss your gun?

ANDREW.

I put it right here. The one with the yellow strap.

HOST.

Only a moment ago I saw it standing there.

ANDREW.

Did you take it up, perhaps?

HOST.

I? I have not touched it. Good heavens! If Lindenschmied--you were
resting, and I was just counting. What is to be done?

ANDREW.

Nothing. I go without my gun. I have no time to get another one from
home.

HOST.

But unarmed--

ANDREW.

Never mind! If that pain in my chest only does not become worse.

[_At the door_.]

I only hope I shall not be too late.

[_From without_.]

Good-night, host.

[_Exeunt both_.]

SCENE V

_In the Dell. Picturesque forest glen; in the background the brook right
across the stage; on the other side rocks, along which a steep, narrow
path runs parallel with the brook. Twilight._

_Enter_ ROBERT _with a gun on his shoulder_; KATHARINE.

KATHARINE.

How gruesome it is here! We have gone a long way from the mansion. Where
are we now, Mr. Robert?

ROBERT.

In the Dell, Katharine.

KATHARINE.

In the Dell? Where one is never safe? Where there are always poachers
from across the Duchy's frontier?

[_Looks about timidly_.]

ROBERT.

Don't be afraid, little one. We have a reliable companion with us--

[_Putting his hand on his gun_.]

Do you see over there?

KATHARINE.

Something glimmering like a white wall with dark shutters--

ROBERT.

That is the forester's house.

KATHARINE.

Really? Yes, thank heaven! Now I see the stag's horns on
the roof-tree outlined against the evening sky.

ROBERT.

Here is the letter. But you must not carry it so openly in your hand.
Have you thought of some pretext, in case the old man should meet you?

KATHARINE (_bashful, and smiling with self-satisfaction_).

Oh, Mr. Robert, do you suppose a girl is so stupid? Don't worry about
that. My little sisters take knitting and sewing lessons from the young
lady--so--

ROBERT (_folds the letter, which he was reading_).

Here it is, Katharine. But give that letter only into Mary's or her
mother's hands; to no one else, neither to Andrew nor William. Only into
her own or her mother's hands.

KATHARINE.

But must I go all alone so far?

ROBERT.

It is scarcely two gunshots. Nobody must see me in the vicinity of the
forester's house. When you go home, you follow the road. Only in case
you should not succeed in delivering the letter come back.

KATHARINE.

But surely you will not go away?

ROBERT.

No, Katharine, I shall remain here.

[_Exit_ KATHARINE.]

SCENE VI

ROBERT, _alone; later_, GODFREY; finally MOeLLER _with two workingmen_.

ROBERT (_looks for some time after_ KATHARINE; _then walks up and
down_).

I wonder whether she will come? Whether she will leave her father for my
sake?

[_Stops_.]

I shall go into the world as a hunter. I am young, strong, and
understand my profession thoroughly--why should I not succeed?

[_Losing himself in thought_.]

And then--when I come home from the forest--healthily tired out by my
work in the open air--and she has been watching for me--and comes to
meet me--and takes my gun, so as to have something to carry--and hangs
it on her shoulder--and my hunter's house standing like that one
yonder--the trees rustling--and I holding her in my arms, exclaiming
jubilantly: Only that happiness is happiness which one owes to one's own
efforts!--And then--

[_The report of a gun is heard, and startles him_.]

GODFREY (_still behind the scenes, groaning_).

Scoundrel!

ROBERT.

What is that?

GODFREY (_staggers upon the scene_; ROBERT _hurries toward him and
catches him just as he is falling down_).

I--am--done for--

ROBERT.

Godfrey! For heaven's sake! Has some one shot you? Hallo! Is nobody
near? Hallo! Help!

MOeLLER (_behind the scenes_).

Hurry up, men! Over there! The shouting comes from the path!

ROBERT.

People are coming. Come here, come here! Help!

MOeLLER (_as before_).

That is Mr. Robert's voice.

ROBERT.

If help is to be of any avail here, it must come quickly.

[_Opens_ GODFREY'S _coat and vest_.]

MOeLLER.

To be sure, it is you, Mr. Stein.

[_Enters with two workingmen_.]

But--

ROBERT.

Moeller, is that you? Look here what has happened!--Are you still alive,
Godfrey?

GODFREY.

Still--but--

MOeLLER (_coming up_).

Godfrey! Merciful heavens!

ROBERT.

Shot from ambush. The bullet entered at the back.

MOeLLER.

Godfrey, speak! Who did it?

GODFREY.

He had--the rifle--with the yellow strap--

ROBERT.

Andrew's rifle?

GODFREY.

He--threatened--to shoot me--

ROBERT.

It is not possible.

MOeLLER.

Was it Andrew, Godfrey?

GODFREY.

Andrew--yes--

MOeLLER.

He is dying.

[_Pause_.]

Take him up, men. And you, Mr. Stein--this here is a nest of murderers.
Come along. There are others about here lying in ambush. Just now we met
Weiler with a gun--that vicious fellow. He was out spying, that's clear.
It is a regular hunt. Come along! But, for heaven's sake, why will you
not--

ROBERT.

Never mind! Go ahead.

MOeLLER.

But what do you intend to do? And your father--if I leave you alone in
danger--if I do not bring you home with me! How will he ever believe me,
that I tried to persuade you?

ROBERT.

Why, you have witnesses here with you. When I say a thing I mean it--I
am going to stay here.

[_Walks up and down in agitation_.]

MOeLLER.

Well, come along, men. You have heard it.

[_While going out_.]

Good heavens! How will it all end?

[_The men have lifted up the corpse; exeunt with_ MOeLLER.]

SCENE VII

ROBERT, _alone; then_ ANDREW; _finally_ LINDENSCHMIED.

ROBERT.

Disgraceful! Disgraceful! Could it be possible that Andrew was capable
of this kind of revenge? And I must believe it--I must! The dying man
said it; he had threatened him with it--it was his gun--and all this is
real--here the murdered man died--here is--with his blood he wrote it in
the turf, so that I can have no doubt. And such men stand between me and
my happiness? Take a firm stand, Robert; here everything is at stake.
You are dealing with men who are afraid of no crime. Who comes there? It
is Andrew himself. [_Shouting to_ ANDREW, _who is not yet visible_.]
Come on! If you are looking for me, murderer! You shall not find me
defenseless and unwary as Godfrey--

ANDREW (_entering, pale and tottering_).

Godfrey?--

ROBERT.

There they carry him. He has been murdered, and you have done it.

ANDREW (_angrily_).

I, Robert?

ROBERT.

The murdered man recognized you and your gun--and your conscience
betrays you.

ANDREW.

Hear me--for God's sake!

[LINDENSCHMIED _comes stealing along the rocky path in the background_.]

ROBERT.

Flee, murderer! Every step carries you nearer the gallows! Here is the
blood that accuses you, and you yourself carry the confession on your
pale face. The fever that shakes you testifies against you.

ANDREW.

May the fever rack your bones, shameless liar! The gun was stolen from
me by Lindenschmied, who was on the lookout for Godfrey. I hurried after
him as soon as I learned it. I fell in a swoon--by sheer will-force I
recovered from the swoon--and--

ROBERT.

You say it is Lindenschmied who--

ANDREW.

If you do not believe me, look there toward the rocky path--

ROBERT.

Murderer, stand! Or I shoot you down!

[LINDENSCHMIED _hurries across the stage on the rocky path._ ROBERT
_follows him below_.]

ANDREW (_totters after him_).

Be careful, Robert! The man is desperate--it is a matter of life and
death.

LINDENSCHMIED.

Stand back! I'll shoot.

ROBERT (_also behind the scenes_).

Down with your gun, and stand!

ANDREW.

He is taking aim--jump aside, Robert!

[_Two shots are heard in succession_.]

Now it is done!

[_Disappears in the bushes_.]

* * * * *

SCENE VIII

_The Manor House_.

_Enter_ STEIN, _uneasy; then_ BASTIAN; _later, the_ PASTOR.

STEIN.

I wonder whether Moeller forgot to send some one to look for Robert? Or
should the boy--that quarrel with Andrew! Bastian!

[BASTIAN _appears at the door_.]

Where is the bookkeeper?

BASTIAN.

Toward evening he went to the blast-furnace.

STEIN.

Hasn't Robert been home again since noon?

BASTIAN.

Mr. Robert made preparations for a journey, and then went away with
Katharine, the Steward's daughter.

[STEIN _makes a sign of dismissal. Exit_ BASTIAN.]

STEIN.

And the pastor--he might have been back long ago.

BASTIAN (_at the door_). The pastor.

STEIN. In the nick of time!

[_The_ PASTOR _appears_.]

STEIN (_shakes hands with him_).

At last! At last! Have you good news?

PASTOR (_shrugging his shoulders_).

It might be better.

STEIN.

Did you meet that hothead, Robert?

PASTOR.

No.

STEIN.

I was in hopes, because you stayed away so long, that you would bring
him with you.

PASTOR.

A sick person, to whom I was called while on my way to you, kept me
until now.

STEIN.

Then fancy that you are coming from a sick person to one more seriously
sick. If impatience, dissatisfaction with oneself, evil presentiments,
were diseases, then I should be a dangerous patient.--But your answer--I
don't even give you time to catch your breath. [_Motions to him to take
a seat; sits down, but rises again_.] If at least I could remain seated!
Six times I mechanically took my hat in my hand; to that extent my old
habit of being together with the forester makes my hands and feet twitch
worse than the gout. In the meantime a thought struck me--but first of
all: How do matters stand with the obstinate old fellow?

PASTOR.

Your offer did not exactly meet with the kindest reception. And yet, who
knows whether, after all, he had not agreed to it, if unfortunately the
affair with Andrew--

STEIN.

With Andrew? What affair?

[_Jumps up_.]

You don't mean to say he has come to blows with Robert?

PASTOR.

This time only with Godfrey--

STEIN (_sits down again_).

You see I am trembling with impatience.

PASTOR.

Godfrey, intoxicated as usual, treated him like a prowling thief, had
him whipped--

[STEIN _jumps up again_.]

PASTOR.

Then it was no wonder that the old man would no longer listen to
anything, and gave orders to treat as a poacher every one, except you,
who enters the forest with a gun.

STEIN (_who has been walking up and down_).

Bastian!

[BASTIAN _appears at the door_.]

As soon as Moeller comes the scoundrel shall be deposed, the brute shall
be locked up--do you hear?

BASTIAN.

The bookkeeper?

STEIN.

Godfrey--and Moeller with him, if he--come, pastor.

[_Takes his hat and cane. Exit_ BASTIAN.]

PASTOR.

You intend--

STEIN.

You ask?--I am going to the old man! I am going to brush away those
caprices in spite of all Wilkens and Moellers!

PASTOR.

That's right! I am with you. [_Rises_.]

STEIN (_stops_).

Wait a moment, parson. Am I to have had that good idea in vain? Listen,
what came into my mind a little while ago--as if straight from heaven!
Parson, what do you say if this very day I should transfer Duesterwalde
to Robert as his own independent property? He could reinstate the old
man with all honors, and nobody's dignity would be hurt. I shall
immediately draw up the deed of transfer. Go quickly to the forester's
house, parson.

PASTOR.

With this message--

STEIN.

Before the old man, or the hotheaded boys, or all three, do something
impetuous which--

[_Makes preparations for writing_.]

PASTOR.

And tomorrow--

STEIN.

As if today had never been--

PASTOR.

Mr. Stein comes as usual around the corner of the forester's house and
knocks at the window, and the white moustache inside grunts his
"Immediately--"

STEIN.

And if you meet Robert--

PASTOR.

I shall be the first one to congratulate the new proprietor of
Duesterwalde.

STEIN.

And today you bring them all along--the old man, the boys, the mother
and the bride. Then[_advances to the pastor at the door_],
as a preliminary celebration we'll crack a bottle of my oldest
Johannisberger. But what is the matter out there? Who comes rushing up
the stairs?

[_At the door_.] What has happened?

SCENE IX

_The same_: MOeLLER, _then_ BASTIAN.

MOeLLER (_comes in, beside himself_).

Horrible! Horrible!

STEIN.

But what is the matter?

MOeLLER.

A murder!--A dreadful murder!

STEIN.

But, man alive, speak--

MOeLLER.

Mr. Robert--

STEIN. My son!

[_Falls into a chair_.]

PASTOR.

Has Robert been murdered?

[_Goes anxiously up to_ STEIN.]

_Enter_ BASTIAN.

MOeLLER.

Not yet. Not yet, I hope. But--I am quite beside myself. Ulrich's Andrew
has already shot and killed Godfrey. Those from the forester's house
have instituted a regular hunt for their enemies. I had Godfrey carried
home. He looks horrible. The bullet entered at the left side of the
spine. He died in Mr. Robert's arms. I asked him: Was it Andrew,
Godfrey? It was Andrew, he said--it was Andrew--and lay down a dead man.
I implored Mr. Robert to come home for God's sake; he was quite beside
himself, and would not come. And I had not gone two hundred steps with
my men, when two more shots were fired behind us.

STEIN (_rises, beside himself_).

Mount your horse at once--ride till it drops dead--only be quick--get
soldiers from the town--surround the whole forest--catch that murderer's
band from the forester's house! You, Bastian, get quickly my Luettich
rifle, the one that's loaded--then call the workingmen--have them
armed--to--where was it, Moeller?

MOeLLER.

At the first bridge--in the Dell, scarcely ten minutes beyond the
forester's house.

PASTOR.

God grant that the worst may still be prevented!

STEIN (_stamps his foot_).

Bastian! Bastian! Why are you still standing there! Make haste!

[_Exit_ MOeLLER.]

And I--while--Bastian!

[BASTIAN _brings the rifle_. STEIN _tears it from him_.]

I am coming!
Robert, hold your own! I am coming!

[_Exeunt omnes_.]

ACT IV

_Twilight. The_ FORESTER'S _House._

SCENE I

WILKENS; SOPHY.

WILKENS.

Your husband has been dismissed. There is no doubt about that. And if he
desires to remain here he is going just the wrong way about it. Stein
certainly cannot afford to allow Ulrich to gain his point by defiance
and revolt. Godfrey now is forester. Well, Godfrey is a brutal fellow;
but here he is in the right. If now they should come together, your
husband and Godfrey? And each is going to treat the other as a poacher?
Or if Godfrey should come across Andrew once more? And if he does what
his father commanded him? Or if Andrew and young Stein come together?
Well? And viewed in the most charitable light, Ulrich is a dismissed
man, whom nobody will wish to employ after this open rebellion of which
he has been guilty. And what is then to become of you and your
children?

SOPHY.

I am sure you will not withdraw your aid from us. If you would only talk
to him once more!

WILKENS.

After the trump that he has played? Even if it were not for that, I
value my breath too much to preach to deaf ears. You and your children
must leave him. That I said to myself a little while ago, while on my
way, and made a solemn resolution to bring this about; and I came back
to tell you. Before you have a corpse or a murderer in the house--

SOPHY (_throws up her hands in terror_).

Matters surely cannot come to that pass!

WILKENS.

Well. I see you'll risk it. You also are a queer mother. But I am not so
indifferent as you, and I will not have a catastrophe on my conscience,
if I can prevent it. I have most to lose by this. To be brief: If you
leave him and come with your children to me, I shall have it settled
that very hour that you and your children are to be my heirs. Till
tomorrow noon you have plenty of time to consider the matter. If by noon
tomorrow you are at the Boundary Inn, where I will wait for you, then
we'll go at once into town to the notary; if you are not there--all
right also. But I'll be a scoundrel--and you know I am as good as my
word--and cursed be my hand, if after that it ever gives a piece of
bread either to you or your children.

[_Exit_.]

SOPHY (_quite overcome; then follows him anxiously and hastily_).

But, cousin! Cousin Wilkens!

SCENE II

MARY _alone; then_ SOPHY _returning_.

MARY (_has a letter in her hand_).

Why did I take it till I had considered matters?--and then I had it in
my hand. And Katharine, too, was so quickly gone!--I should not have
taken it!

SOPHY (_reappearing_).

Those cruel men! Prayers avail nothing. What have you there, Mary?

MARY.

A letter from Robert.

SOPHY.

If your father should see that!

MARY.

I cannot understand at all how I came to accept it; but I felt so sorry
for Robert. Katharine told me he was down in the Dell, and waiting. Then
I again recollected my dream of last night.

SOPHY.

A dream?

MARY.

I dreamt I was at the spring among the willows in my favorite spot, and
was sitting among the many colored flowers and looking up into the sky.
There I saw a thunder-storm, and I became as depressed as if I were to
die. And the child, you know, the one that had been with me fourteen
years ago when I lost my way, was sitting beside me and said: Poor Mary!
and pulled the bridal wreath out of my hair, and in place of it fastened
to my bosom a large blood-red rose. Then I fell backwards into the
grass, I knew not how. Yonder in the village the bells were ringing, and
the singing of the birds, the chirping of the crickets, the soft evening
breeze in the willows above me--all that seemed like a lullaby. And the
turf sank down with me lower and ever lower, and the chimes and the
singing sounded ever more distant--the sky became blue once more, and I
felt so light and free--

SOPHY.

A strange dream! Have you opened the letter?

MARY.

No, mother. And I do not wish to do so.

SOPHY.

At least don't let your father see it. Alas, Mary! we shall be obliged
to leave your father!

MARY.

Leave father? We?

SOPHY.

He is coming. Do not betray anything! Put away the letter. Put the Bible
there before you, so that be may not suspect anything. I will try once
more--if he thinks we are going away, he perhaps may yet give in, and we
may stay.

SCENE III

_The stage is becoming darker and darker._

_The_ FORESTER; SOPHY; MARY.

FORESTER.

William not yet back?

SOPHY.

I have not seen him.

[FORESTER _steps to the window, and, lost in thought, drums against the
panes_. SOPHY _begins packing_.]

MARY.

But, mother--

SOPHY.

Be quiet now, Mary, and don't take part in the conversation.

FORESTER (_has turned around and watched his wife for some time_).

What are you doing there?

SOPHY (_without looking up_).

I am packing some dresses--if I have to go away--

FORESTER.

We don't have to go. There is a law to prevent that.

SOPHY (_shaking her head_). _Your_ law? [_Continues packing_.]

_I_ shall be obliged to go away with the children.

FORESTER (_surprised_).

You are going to--

SOPHY.

If you don't come to terms with Stein--

FORESTER.

If--

SOPHY.

You need not get angry, Ulrich. You cannot act otherwise, and neither
can I. I do not reproach you; I say nothing, absolutely nothing. You
persist in regarding as your enemy whoever counsels you to yield--and
cousin Wilkens is going to disinherit the children if you remain
obstinate, and if I and the children are not in his house by noon
tomorrow. Under the circumstances I can do nothing but go in silence.

FORESTER (_drawing a deep breath_).

You wish--

SOPHY. I wish nothing. You wish and cousin Wilkens wishes. You cruel men
decree our fate, and--we must bear it. If you would give in, then,
indeed, we might stay. Do you believe I am going with a light heart? As
far as I am concerned, I should be willing to stand by you till death.
But for the children's sake and--for your sake also.

FORESTER (_gloomily_).

How for my sake?

SOPHY.

You are dismissed, you have no resources; and another position at your
age--after your affair with Stein--you might--

FORESTER (_violently_).

Accept charity? For my wife and children?

SOPHY.

Don't become angry. I don't say: Yield. I will press nothing upon you.
You cannot yield, and I--cannot remain--unless you yield. If we must
part [_Her voice shakes_]--then let us part amicably. Let us forgive
each other for what one party does against the interests of the other,
or [_with gentle reproach_]--for what the other party thinks is being
done against his interests.

FORESTER.

You intend, then, going to Wilkens?

SOPHY.

I must.

FORESTER.

And the children are to go also?

SOPHY.

It is for their sake that I go.

FORESTER.

Will you not also take Nero along? Out there? The dog? Why should the
dog remain longer with his dismissed master? Take the dog along. And
when I get my rights, as I am bound to get them--and stand before the
world no longer as a scoundrel--then--why, then the dog may come back
again. You think he is not going to leave me? Surely the dumb beast is
not going to be more stupid than human beings are? Wife and children are
prudent, and only such a poor beast is going to be stupid? One ought to
kick the beast for such stupidity. An old man, a ruined man, who in his
old age would be branded as a scoundrel, if Stein had his will, and such
a beast refuses to see reason? After fifty years of faithful service
thrown out of my position as a scoundrel, because I refuse to be a
scoundrel--and I have sacrificed my own money into the bargain, and the
poor beast in its kennel is going to show more gratitude than the rich
Stein in his mansion? In that case one should simply blow out the brains
of the whole brood of beasts, if they served no other purpose but to
make man bow his head in shame before them. [_Walks up and down; turns
to her with emotion_.] We are to be two? After twenty-five years?--Very
well! Then from now on may each suffer alone--as long as the heart holds
out!

SOPHY.

Ulrich--

[_She is obliged to restrain_ MARY, _who wishes to throw herself at the_
FORESTER's _feet_].

FORESTER.

From now on we are two. Go away! Go away! Wilkens is rich, and I am a
poor man in spite of my right. You're going after the money. I'll not
prevent you. But if you say you have acted rightly--then--and now the
matter is disposed of. Not one more word about it.

SCENE IV

_The same. Enter_ WILLIAM.

FORESTER (_seated on the right of the stage_).

Come here, William. Where did you leave Andrew?

WILLIAM.

I waited for him a quarter of an hour at the Boundary Inn.

FORESTER.

Perhaps he thought you were coming later--

SOPHY (_aside_).

Andrew has not come back with him? I can't get my uncle's words out of
my head.

[MARY _lights the lamp and puts it on the table by the_ FORESTER.]

Book of the day: